Skip to content

Estuarine paddleworms (Nereidae)

Taxonomic group

Family: Nereidae

Diagnostic features

The polychaetes are annelids (segmented worms) and they are characterised by their fleshy “paddles” (parapodia) on each body segment. The nereid polychaetes include some large greenish species that are common in estuaries. Nereids have a pair of palps on the first body segment, and a proboscis with a pair of jaws.

Typical habitats

Nereids can be common in the muddy reaches of stream and river estuaries, where they construct mucus-lined burrows.


Nereids include herbivores, carnivores, deposit feeders and filter feeders.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: unassigned
  • Soft bottom: unassigned; general paddleworm value 6.7

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Nereids are found in the estuaries of rivers draining bush-covered, farmland and urban catchments, and they do not appear to be particularly sensitive to water quality. This family has not been assigned tolerance values but the Class Polychaeta (paddleworms) has a soft bottom tolerance value of 6.7 (no hard bottom value has been assigned).